Another Day in the Middle East

I viewed with great horror – as I usually do- the news the other day in the Occupied West Bank & Gaza of the Middle East. Thinking of my family and friends in the area: 16 more people killed.

The news was that a suicide bomber killed 7 Israelis, and Israel struck back by killing 9 Palestinians in the occupied territories. As it was relayed across the media, the suicide attack was described as “terrorist”, the Israeli attack as “retaliatory”. While being an opponent of killing civilians in any conflict or war anywhere in the world, this author is a strong advocate of finding the root-cause of a peculiar situation. It is because of the mass-media’s skewed view of this root-cause, that makes the relay of events here particularly disturbing.

To better understand this tragic conflict, one must ask what would drive a person to undertake a suicide mission? What type of tragedy and desperation would force oneself to leave his/her loved ones behind and give up their own life? Then one must note the frequency of these suicide attacks in the Middle East. Hence, what is driving so many people – relatively speaking- to embark on the same path again and again? It would be shallow and naive to attempt to explain the history and proportions of this conflict in a few lines. Yet one must start to consider the historical facts of the situation. Here I quote the Israeli writer Baruch Kimmerling: “Since 1967, millions of Palestinians have been under a military occupation without any civil rights, and most lacking even the most basic human rights. The continuing circumstances of occupation and repression give them, by any measure, the right to resist that occupation with any means at their disposal and to rise up in violence against that occupation.” Truly and sadly enough, this Israeli occupation has utilized many forms in repressing the Palestinians. ‘ Administrative detention’ is one, in which Palestinians are arrested for indefinite periods of time, without charges and without trial. [3]

Demolition of homes is also commonplace, with the most recent wave of demolitions being in the Khan Yunis refugee camp in Gaza. This demolition of homes is done arbitrarily by the Israeli government, without any requirement of proof that the inhabitants committed any offense. The Palestinians’ land is routinely confiscated and settlements are built upon it, which also contravenes international law. [4]

The Israeli occupation has put the Palestinians in a state of siege, by blocking the roads and digging trenches around the cities, effectively preventing people to travel from town to town, but more importantly from getting to work.

The bulldozing of thousands of olive trees, which constitute the livelihood of many Palestinians, has also contributed to their impoverishment. The Palestinian economy has reached an all-time low and unemployment levels have rose to 48% . Young men are rounded up frequently in Palestinian villages and detained. These detainments, that may last for hours on end, include severe beatings and standing against walls with arms raised above head at gunpoint.

The systematic torture of Palestinians in Israeli prisons, the daily humiliations at checkpoints and invasion of homes are more examples of life under occupation.

A whole nation is being punished for the expansionistic passions of another. As Robert Fisk of The Independent stated: “They (i.e. the Israelis) have made the Palestinians so crushed, so desperate, so humiliated that they have nothing to lose.” [6]

So after 34 years of illegal military occupation, over 60 UN resolutions, and thousands of Palestinians killed, wounded, deported and permanently disabled, the Israelis still maintain that they are the victims of Palestinian terror. Yet until Israel withdraws from the West Bank & Gaza, and until the Nazi-like aggression against the Palestinian people ends, the cycle of bloodshed will continue.


[3] See, B’tselem is an Israeli Human Rights organization.

[4], B’tselem is an Israeli Human Rights organization. Palestinian Territory & The New York Times: Palestinians in a State of Siege by Allegra Pacheco. March 16, 2001.

[6] When Journalists refuse to tell the truth about Israel by Robert Fisk, The Independent, April 17, 2001.